19 Jun 2012
Cook Islands’ finance minister Mark Brown has indicated that the government will re-examine the previously rejected proposal to connect the tiny Pacific country to an undersea international fibre-optic cable, reports Radio New Zealand International. Brown is quoted as saying that the proposed first step is a baseline survey to determine how improved broadband will affect the country’s GDP and productivity, adding that this could result in the government selling some of its 40% share in Telecom Cook Islands (TCI), to raise funds. TCI’s CEO Jules Maher warns that the country has already evaluated the possibilities of connecting to Tahiti’s Honotua cable, which runs to Hawaii, or linking to the Pacific Fibre cable proposed between New Zealand and the US, but either project would cost approximately USD20 million. Maher states that satellite is the best option for the Cook Islands. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, TCI signed a long-term contract with start-up high speed satellite internet access provider O3b Networks in mid-2010 to provide an initial 155Mbps of bandwidth for connectivity via O3b’s medium earth orbit satellites (MEOS); O3b’s initial eight MEOs are set for launch in early 2013, it confirmed in December 2011, having secured USD1.2 billion in funding for the project the previous year.